Solid foods for an infant are foods that are either soft or pureed (thick liquid paste), which makes them easy to swallow. When you begin, make sure you give your baby food that only complements all the nutrients and not just one that replaces breast milk. However, it is better to wait after 4 months because in most cases your baby isn’t physically ready to digest anything else apart from breast milk.
Before four months of age, their digestive system will not have the appropriate enzymes to digest any new food and this may cause some digestive or kidney problems in the near future. Her throat muscles would not have developed for swallowing. After four months, they are more likely to use their tongue-thrust reflex to convey their readiness. This is done by giving them a teaspoon of the food; if they expel it with the force of their tongue, it means that they are not yet ready for anything new. This reflex is called extrusion.
Your baby will let you know if they has had enough of breast milk by sleeping off in the middle of their two hour feed or by turning their head to show refusal which is seen at 5 months of age. Introducing food at an early age will result in obesity and other health related problems like respiratory problems and food allergies.
Start by introducing new food after every 4 days (this will help you ensure if any food causes allergy to your baby). Make sure you avoid any food that your baby may choke on; she should be either in a sitting position while eating or at least in a reclined position to avoid regurgitation.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants who are breast-fed for the first 6 months along with solid foods should continue the same diet up to 12 months of age. So make sure you breastfeed her also, as beast milk is the primary source of nutrition for your baby!
Solid foods will ensure that your baby sleeps better and for longer but that doesn’t mean you force feed them. And make sure you don’t overdo with the new food, one teaspoon per day is enough, as your baby will require some time getting used to it. Avoid extra sugar and salt, if possible. Make the transition to solid foods nice and slow, using a spoon giving breaks in between bites, so that your baby can enjoy her new food.
Don’t wait for 8 months to start, as your baby will require all the nutrients, iron, zinc, carbohydrates, calories essential for their better development. Their chewing skills will also develop between 7-9 months of age. Therefore, any delay in introducing solid foods to them will result in a delay of their overall physical and mental growth. And they may even refuse to eat healthy, wholesome foods later on.